The End of Regulation

I visited Candlestick Park a few weeks ago on the occasion of the 49ers vs. the St. Louis Rams (49ers 23 – Rams 13 final). My beloved Niners seek their 6th championship title for the last time from the ‘Stick this year, campaigning from their sparkling new stadium in Santa Clara beginning in the 2014 season. It was the first time in well over a decade, perhaps even closer to two, that I’d been inside the cavernous monolith on the former marshlands known as Candlestick Point. It was a glorious day for football, as is so often the case in San Francisco in the fall; our best weather all year as observed famously by many, none the least being the airplane-avoiding, larger-than-life curmudgeon cum coach cum announcer – boom – John Madden.

*cue emphatic telestrator circling of sea lions on rocks near Farallons.*

Forgeive me if I’m a little sentimental. Here’s the thing: I practically grew up in Candlestick Park.

Candlestick Park

Candlestick Park

My first time at the ‘Stick was probably around 1975 to watch the 49ers. We were sitting in the upper deck above the north end zone and I saw a classmate of mine, Robert Nava who was there with his family because you could do that back then — bring the whole family. I remember thinking, “Everybody in the whole city might be here in this stadium right now”. I had a cheeseburger and studied the players photos in the program. Jean Barrett I determined was the most handsome, everything else is a blur of irrelevance, including the final score, but we almost certainly lost. I believe it was a game day decision to even go; my mom drove out to the park, walked us up to the ticket window and in we went. I didn’t understand the game of football back then (eventually I’d be able to name the starting O-Line including their alma maters) but I loved the energy of the fans, who, despite how awful the team was, still heartily cheered a first-down, argued over calls and mostly got very, very drunk. And the next day at school when I saw Robert in class and we just smiled and nodded to each other, it was like a secret club with membership only for cool people. “Yea,” I’m sure I casually said to a fellow middle-schooler, “I saw him at the game.”

I forget how old I was when I realized that we were that kind of family. There’re those that go camping together and sing songs in the car (aren’t there?), and those that spend hours meticulously wrapping lavish gifts with candy canes and jingle bells and little wooden ornament tags for each other at Christmas, and those that play Monopoly without cheating, and say please and thank you at the dinner table, and knock before they walk in on you in the bathroom…d’you see where I’m going with this? On Sundays at our house you’d hear the sounds of shoulder pads and officials blowing calls and beer commercials. And you’d see my mom in her housecoat & slippers, moving from room to room, each tv tuned to a different game, holding a notepad and a fistful of cards with all the match-ups and their lines. She’d keep tabs on all the scores quarter by quarter and if she missed one she’d call out to me or my brother, “How’re the Bills doing?” meaning, are they beating the points? I won’t say we knew a bookie, but we did, and she’d howl herself Dodger blue if she knew I told you she gambled on football all though my childhood. I promise you she’s a nice lady who wore modest pantsuits and never missed a day of work except to get her gallbladder removed and packed our school lunches every day. She took notes on the games & worked out some kind of system that seemed logical to her, (and only her, I’m sure,) and usually she’d break even, pick 7 or 8 out of ten, or lose, or very, very occasionally surprise everyone in her office (all middle-aged women, also enthrall to the bookmaker) and reel in a windfall. She did things like take us to Disneyland with her winnings. She was particularly fond of college football. “Poor little Wake Forest” she’d lament. I was 20 before I knew that Wake Forest was a school in North Carolina and not some undersized kicker who missed extra points a lot.

At the park in those early years we’d always sit in the upper-deck, over the now hallowed ground of the north end-zone, peering down the perilously steep slope to watch the plays open up, just like they draw on the boards with Xs and Os and arrows criss-crossing, except with real bodies. Football, though generally regarded by the uninitiated as brutish, is actually quite beautiful from this distance as the complex choreography develops on the field. Also, apparently beer improves eyesight proportionally to volume consumed, as missed “holding” calls were emphatically pointed-out by eagle-eyed fans as the game progressed. There is no people-watching that compares to that in the nose-bleeds at a ballpark filled with the ever-increasingly drunken fans of a hopelessly crummy team. There were fistfights and cursing and more than a few spills on the steep stairs by some of the more entertainingly intoxicated. However horror-stricken my mom became at the end of some of those games, it was all just part of the show to me:  the big, unruly mash-up of life. We chanted “DEEEE-FENCE!!” together and handed over, seat by seat, hot dogs and sodas and change for a $20 and we blew our plastic horns and rang our cowbell and sat protected, in the center of the circle of our red and gold clan. These were the Joe Thomas, trade for OJ Simpson, artificial turf, 2 & 14 years. The days when you loved your team because they were your TEAM and you came out to sit in hard plastic seats in a concrete and steel ballpark to be with your people, not for the poutine fries and a $9 plastic tumbler of chablis.

When I was a sophomore in high school my mom managed through her connections to get me a job as an usherette at Candlestick for the baseball Giants. The nice ladies who I guess were my bosses gave me an orange vest and sent me out to a very far away section in the upper deck on the third-base side to basically watch the game and figure out what exactly I’d be getting my tiny paycheck for. The one thing I was explicitly not to do was sit. Those first few times were freakin-hilarity-on-ice as I sat one group of intrepid Giants’ fans after another in the wrong seats or sent them slogging off into the desolate, nether-regions of the park to find a ladies’ room. I didn’t know where first-aid was or how to get to the press box,  but I did know that you could unstick your long hair from your lipgloss without taking your hands out of your pockets by standing in the inner corridor of the upper deck and angling your head into the hurricane-force winds. I chased down foul balls with dozens of kids, sighed in the bottoms of ninths as victory eluded us and pulled the collar up on my big, orange wool coat as the fog fell in clumps over the lip of the stadium and the seagulls circled in on those freezing July nights. Even back then you knew the ‘Stick was a dinosaur staggering toward extinction: the restrooms were cloyingly small, you couldn’t see the game from the concession stands and the interior corridors of the upper deck were like windowless cell-blocks; cold, dark, remote…the perfect place for getting stoned…um, or so I heard.

*Whistles. Looks around.*

Anyway, I one-time rode in the elevator with Tamara Clark, wife of right-fielder Jack. She was wearing a white mink coat and a diamond encrusted #22 pendant on a gold chain that I’m betting you could see from space.

Wore all this…to the BALL park.

Croix De Candlestick

Croix De Candlestick

 The Giants never did bring a trophy home to the ‘Stick and these were particularly lean years for them, but I got to watch Willie MacCovey, John Montefusco, The Clarks22 (they really should retire the number for The Thrill, one of my all time faves), Frank Robinson, Joe Morgan, Jeffrey Leonard and others. Ironically, one of my favorite games to play was one devised by a friend’s brother to measure the true depths of a fan’s loyalty: in a beer-fueled yelling match, who can name the most OBSCURE Giant to ever take the field (during our particular era — late 70s early 80s)? The argument still rages today, as it’s obviously pretty subjective, but my feeling is if you know who the fuck John Tamargo was, you deserve a gold-plated Croix de Candlestick!! The friendships I made out there were epic. Between the usherettes, security guards, cops, vendors, ticket-sellers, maintenance guys, concession workers, and the occasional player there was enough cross-pollination to keep the gene pool interesting. After-game tailgating was a regular occurrence, as crews would get off work and converge at C lot amidst open trunks-ful of cold beers. Folks would wander off into the dark of the parking lot to make-out or throw-up (or both if the night wore on long enough) and then stagger back to pass out in a back seat or crack open another cold one. Sometimes the back gate would be open, especially if it was late in the season when the park was also used for football. Always we’d make a dash for daylight, those of us who could still walk right. We’d run around in the outfield and if the guards were “busy” we’d make it to the dugouts and sometimes run around the dirt infield where the bases would have been. Mary and Andy may or may not have shagged in centerfield. The number and variety of trysts, betrayals and heresies, both real and imagined, spawned the nickname SCANDALSTICK and my own amusing, treacherous, baffling foray into the world of grown-ups, or at least their proxies, began with a can of coors in one hand, a Marlboro Light in the other and Joan and I with our arms around each other, singing Eddie Money’s “I Think I’m in Love”. It all seemed so damn important back then, the loyalties and drunken pinkie-promises, and of course they were. It was all my American Graffiti, except with Days-on-the-Green, bad perms and flashdance tops.

All of this and then came the 80s. in San Francisco. Football fans we were, did I mention?

The Catch

The Catch, North Endzone, Candlestick Park. 1982

This photo still gives me chills, probably always will. And perfect that the angle includes some of the stadium so that Candlestick Park will always hold its place in history. Dwight Clark may never make the Hall of Fame and Candlestick will be leveled eventually to make way for who knows what, but this photo is an historical touchstone, like photos of Lou Gehrig or Ray Charles — national treasures that remind us of how sometimes unexpected it is to be awesome. My older brother Bob was sitting in our season ticket spots on the east side of where Clark cemented his legend. He told me people were crying…CRYING! I get it. The shock of the improbable is overwhelming. I was in the Daly City BART station coming home from work and a stranger and I embraced when the station agent announced this miraculous touchdown. People streamed out of their houses all along the BART route, I could see them from the train as we sped past, neighbors hugging and waving. It was totally beautiful. Later that year during baseball season Bill Walsh walked through the section I was working in. I only saw his hand waving and the top of his pure white hair, like a sighting of the Pope or something, and though it was very early in his legendary career people pressed against him like he was royalty, to touch greatness and say thank you. It makes my heart thump still, all these years later. Candlestick was never much to look at, but some totally amazing stuff happened in there. 

It may seem a trivial thing, sports, and of course it is. The big picture is important, but people don’t really live in the big picture. Day in and day out they live in the small picture where they sit in traffic and buy groceries and go to the dentist. We group ourselves into tribes in the small picture because it help us know who we are on this great, spinning rock, even if it’s just a fleeting sense. And don’t give me that shit about “I HATE sports! FUCK those overpaid jocks!” like you can take the moral high-ground because American culture is totally screwed up and you got your skinny, emo-ass kicked by a Neanderthal in a letter-jacket in high school. You don’t have to get sports. Everybody has their tribe:  celebrity hounds, music freaks, tall people…everybody nods to their tribesmen out on the savannah (or on the N Judah) because it makes us feel like we’re not alone and we can all access the mystery somehow, through greatness or poetry or beauty, where ever it is we choose to look for it. If you don’t see how sports has anything to do with all that high-minded, family-of-man stuff I would say trust me, it does and that this is just probably not your tribe.

I hope the new park is a glittering, crown jewel for the NFL. I hope the local economy of Santa Clara bursts at the seams with new revenue and that the citizens take deep pride in being the home of the San Francisco 49ers. I hope the team makes new, ever more awesome legends down the peninsula and that they grace their new home with 5 more Lombardi Trophies. Prior to all that though, sometime after Kap & Harbaugh and all the rest of the guys jog off the field after Monday Night Football, I’ll stand with some of my tribe and watch the big, concrete shell cave in on itself, but it’ll be a celebration, not a funeral. We’ll high-five and chant for the defense and  put our arms around each other and bellow “We are the champions, my friends…” because some of us will be drunk and some of us will be crying, but mostly because in that brooding block of concrete, we were champions…all of us. Corny? Maybe, but that’s how my tribe rolls and I totally dig it.

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The Difference Between Cats & Dogs

a few days ago someone posted a story to facebook that, by all appearances, was just another example of the epic battle of cluelessness vs. humorless bitchiness known as the “battle of the sexes”. at first glance it seemed straight-forward: on a mobile dating app two people begin a conversation that starts innocuously enough, only to degenerate into a dick-pic and its inevitable backlash. you’d think that it would stir nothing more than a collective shrug and eye-roll from what is, surely by now, a jaded and de-sensitized cyber-populace…but you’d be wrong. even i, who couldn’t be less surprised by the consistently low-level of manners and consideration that passes itself off as western civilization, found myself inexplicably drawn to pay closer scrutiny to the story. there was something, to me at least, profound about the exchange that caught me off guard and left me strangely melancholy, like kiera knightly in one of those beige, snore-fests people always rave about outside the theater while boo-hooing and blowing their snot all over the sidewalk.

so first, there’s the app itself called Let’s Date that i, personally, have never heard of. i am however, familiar with SKOUT, an app that is likely identical but for the color of the text bubbles. the dude who posted this so that it appeared on my newsfeed is a middle-aged guy, probably just slightly younger than me. i know him only very remotely through other friends but he seems like a bright enough chap, though he can’t spell or figure out 4th grade grammar to save his life. despite his insistence that it doesn’t matter in this “first-draft” throw-away world of the interwebs, it knocks his credibility down several notches whether he accepts that little factoid or not. in any case it is his assertion that this woman joined this dating app knowing that it’s the “straight version of grindr” and that to be outraged by a dick-pic is a total over-reaction since “everybody” knows that’s what this app is about. bullshit! here’s the thing joe: maybe women are just crazy but when something says it’s a “dating” site, we, because we are apparently insane, think it might be for…oh, i dunno…dating? grindr is called…grindr, or didn’t you notice? you’re telling me now the word “dating” goes into the same pile of meaningless slog as “fat-free” and “guaranteed to get blood stains out of fabric”? that the Don Drapers of the world have commandeered and smeared it with all their spilled seed as if it were just more shower tile, turning it into yet another euphemism for, “hey, look, here’s my dick”?

(incidentally, he also begins his repost of the story by saying that he’s “not condoning” this guy’s actions in any way and then, as if by magic, out of the other side of his mouth, he condones the guy’s actions by laying all the responsibility on the woman. he’s obviously been studying press releases from the GOP…unfortunately for him, that kind of bait & switch is best left to the experts.)

so anyway…yea…um, no. wrong.

you, who can’t navigate the very simple difference between “their” and “there”, are certainly ill-equipped to interpret the motivation or fore-knowledge of an unknown woman in the morass of online dating. Y-O-U-‘-R-E an idiot. sorry, no cash and prizes for you. please return to Y-O-U-R seat.

while this is entertaining and all, there’s still the actual exchange between Trevor and the woman that is much more interesting. as i mentioned, it seems to begin in the way most conversations between strangers begin, he even asks her about the weather fercrissakes! and then, with no warning whatsoever, he sends her a photo of himself naked in his hallway. aside from the fact that everything on the internet lives forever, making it unwise to post such a thing in the first place, what on god’s green earth did he hope to accomplish by this? a girl has to wonder. and since the pic of him is posted here but is blurred and frankly nothing to write home about anyway, allow me to make your day by posting one that was sent to me on SKOUT by a virile, young art student:

a little gift from me to you.

a little gift from me to you. now this, my friends, is something to gawk at for a spell. take your time…i’ll be right here.

alrighy then…so…where were we…?

oh yea…so the woman is appalled. but i have to say, what he does next is kind of why i love men, and also why i sometimes hate them. she’s railing about how disrespectful it is and his response is…what do you think? ok, multiple choice…see if you can guess what he says:

a) “i’m sorry you feel disrespected.”
b) “you should report me for being inappropriate.”
c) “(too) big for ya?”

if you’re not laughing you might be one of those mythical femi-nazis rush limbaugh sees lurking behind every shrub in his drugged sleep. it’s so utterly clueless that it’s charming in a weird way, isn’t it? it’s completely silly in the same way this picture is:

lmao.

ah, me guns! gaze upon me GUNS!

or am i just crazy?

ok, i laugh at stupid shit sometimes. it’s a het thing i guess…makes some of the more questionable male behavior tolerable. still, it’s classic, there’s no denying that.

the woman rails on.

our naked friend has still not caught on that this was a stupid thing to do. he says something really baffling: “it’s just my cock.”

yea trevor? then go show it to your boss. or your neighbors. or how about your mom? she’s seen it before so she should really not care that you’re walking around with it bouncing in front of you, though please put a newspaper down before you sit on the couch and don’t even think about going near the curtains.

yea, it’s just your cock trevor — a dime a dozen those things are — but you wouldn’t dream of doing that to any of those other people, would you?

right, that’s what i thought.

there’s some back and forth and she threatens to send screenshots to his mother, which i found kind of petty. he didn’t send the pic to her mom did he? leave his poor mom out of this. but whatever…their squabbling about what to do next is not really interesting…though she does begin to correct his spelling, which i always applaud. the thing that really got me, that made me feel a little sad and see this as more than just an isolated moment is when he says this:

i thought you’d like it.

i can barely believe he’d say such a thing. surely he can’t be serious? what in the bloody hell would make him even think that?

assuming that this is true, that he really did think that she’d like it, it then strikes me as just the saddest thing that we can step all over each other on this over-packed planet and still be so completely misunderstood by each other. among the many comments on the post was the very astute observation that it’d be great if we taught kids about the differences in sexuality between the genders, though that would certainly open the door to conversations that most parents could never possibly deal with. additionally it would invoke a sort of “gender profiling” and since any generalizations are bound to exclude a large number of people and their specific experiences, it might create more angst than already exists, though considering the state we now occupy on that front, that’s hard to imagine. surely there are women who might’ve liked it and there’s nothing wrong or weird about that, but in my experience they are a minority. the fact is that all the women who commented on the thread were indeed offended. furthermore, in siding with the woman who is the subject here, the women who commented agreed that this kind of behavior does indeed support the “rape culture” that she references. the idea that a man can make a woman look at his dick, whether she wants to or not, is exactly the definition of rape culture. it is an issue involving power over another person to do as he pleases without her consent. write that one down boys…you NEED to figure this shit out. it’s not “just your cock” if it’s also my desire (or lack thereof) to look at it. there’s a reason it’s illegal to do that to someone on the street. believe me when i tell you that if i want to see it, i’ll let you know. this crazy notion that some of you have that online dating is just code for show us your dick is deluded at best, and just a fucking lie that you’re exploiting to satisfy your narcissistic pathology at worst, and really makes you look like cavemen. granted, i was not particularly offended by the photo the art student sent me, and he is quite a specimen, but the fact is that it was unequivocally inappropriate. he’s just lucky i’m hard to offend. he even said he got off on sending it to me. what was unsaid was this: because you were forced to look at me and could do nothing to stop it. that’s just a fact. does it make him a depraved, potential sex offender? no, it doesn’t, but that doesn’t change what the behavior in fact is. there’s only one way to know if it’s ok with me to show me your dick and it’s to ask me. you have to explicitly get my consent (or in this case, dissent. sorry, you’ll have to keep it in your pants tonight junior) or you are, without question, whether it’s your intention or not, perpetuating rape culture.

i guess the flip side of this is that i have no capacity to understand how enthralling a penis attachment actually is. it is, if all the testimony is to be believed, fascinating and fantastic and awesome and all you’d ever want is have people looking at it or touching it in some way, constantly. time spent sleeping, eating and working is merely time spent away from union with it. maybe if we only understood how our slow driving and crossing the street in front of you is keeping you from being with it, we might come to know why some of you are such fucking maniacs behind the wheel. my friend trish is definitely onto something when she says that every man, from kings to captains of industry to blue collar workers to the unemployed, should, upon waking every single day, be given a hand job. were this to be put into practice, there would be no more war or any of its attendant byproducts, including poverty, crime, suffering or the destruction of the environment. everybody could just chill the fuck out. not a blow job mind you, because, as samantha said, “there’s a reason they call it a job.” a hand job means you wouldn’t even have to put your book down. she’s a smart girl that trish, pragmatic and apparently quite the multi-tasker.

i don’t know about world peace, and i’m not about to just offer my hand-job services willy-nilly unless i can get some guarantees in writing. maybe it’s just enough that today at least, i feel an unfamiliar compassion for all of us little fleshy beasts trying to find each other despite the many barriers and all the odds against us. we sometimes fail so miserably that you’d think we’d just throw in the towel; say fuck this crazy shit and eat doritos & corn dogs and stay in our bathrobes till check-out time. something about our persistence is sweetly poignant yet encouraging. maybe there’s a place of understanding where respect and playfulness can co-exist and if we keep staggering around in the dark, we’ll find it.

The Day the Devil Has Made

i almost made it.

i got through the whole day and was on my way home. it was around 5:30 and i was on chestnut street. i missed the 43 to the haight by a half a block but the weather was gorgeous so it was ok to sit in the lovely, early twilight for 12 minutes or whatever till the bus parked 50 feet away was ready to go. catch my breath, let the sweat from the walk evaporate, all good. no worries. i sat in the shelter and checked my newsfeed.

scrolling, scrolling…righteous political articles we all agree on but never actually read, stupid stuff i “liked” once, pictures of cute puppies, and a slew of uninspired posts from friends and acquaintances alike (c’mon people, let’s have a little enthusiasm, eh? it’s a good thing i still like most of you and have gotten used to picking up your slack). and then, boom, there it was. it hit me like an arrow from darryl’s crossbow — full-strike, to the head, zombie down! a blathering, frothy entry describing the “thoughtfulness” of somebody’s dude accompanied by a photo of a bouquet of flowers, a box of candy and, i dunno…some plastic doodad, like the toys you get in a happy meal. or maybe it was a vibrator.

“i have the BEST boyfriend EVER!!!” she gushed for a solid paragraph, misusing “their” twice, understanding exactly nothing about what would have made at least a compelling, if not ecompletely truthful facebook post. to wit:

he battled giant lizards with a compostable spork! he had his spleen removed by a psychic surgeon! he won a year’s worth of penzoil on the new Price is Right! he went to walgreens, amid a sea of molten blood and semen, and bought me this stuff for valentine’s day!!!!!!!!!!

sexmain.widea

totally stolen image from the interwebs.
my apologies to the artist.

but i digress…

somehow i have never had a boyfriend on valentine’s day, though i’ve had a few around my birthday, to mixed results. don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to be thought of and a nice gesture is always appreciated, but i’m telling you…the day a man hands me a blue box containing platinum 3″ hoop earrings is gonna be a red-letter-day indeed. valentine’s day has traditionally been a real trudge through the desert. the truth is i have spent most of my life side-stepping, avoiding eye-contact with and otherwise juking away from relationships, so the dearth of gift-bearing males is neither surprising nor disturbing. but the cultural mind-fuck known as valentine’s day is so far beyond brutal it’s medieval. it apparently has the same marketing team working for it as one Jesus of Nazareth. from jewelry, flowers and lingerie ads to segments on what passes itself off as the evening news, it’s as pervasive as malaria in the jungle. there is simply no escape and no matter how determined you are that all the syrupy-pink, chocolate-smeared, cupid-stained cliche bullshit has nothing to do with you; no matter how crystal clear it is that it’s insincere and utterly contrived; no matter how much you know your life is just the way you like it and your friends adore you and all you ever really want is to spend more time with your dog…no matter! because it’s like running from a tsunami. you literally have no chance to get out from under it. not. one. fucking. chance. it also doesn’t matter that it’s all just so insanely arrogant and self-absorbed; the diamond commercials alone are enough to make you want to chop a girl’s hands off to match the impoverished, brutalized, exploited miner whose homeland is being raped to harvest the damn things. (this is not a personal indictment of anyone wearing a diamond. it’s your soul and i do plenty of questionable things. no rock throwing here.) there’s just so much to hate about the whole thing. but regardless of how legit the high road is i find myself left with a very strong sense that i am a huge loser when the day comes and people are scuddering about with their flushed cheeks on the bus, balancing their fists-full of roses and foil, heart-shaped balloons.

now you can believe this or not, but this is absolutely true from my heart: there is no one i know or know of that i would trade lives with. sincerely, as imperfect as my life is, i pine after no other: not the kardashians or the “housewives” or america’s next top model. if i could wave a magic wand and change anything i’d be thin again and i’d have more dough, but i’d have it as me: singular gina, ace’s mom, friend to a lucky few, daughter to marie. i don’t wish i had anybody else’s kids, husband, family, career, trinkets, interests or talents. and now that i have found jeans that fit and don’t make me feel like i’m squeezed into a sausage casing, i’m kind of ok here in this body, since i don’t seem to be able to do anything to change it anyway and i’m innately lazy as hell. this is not to say that i don’t get lonely for a chest to snuggle into or a good, sweaty romp in the sheets, but i have found that i am almost completely without the ability to tolerate the concessions i’d have to make for these things. and i don’t mean the reciprocal blow-job in exchange for a good drain-snaking (not a euphemism, by the way) afterall, fair is fair. i mean i don’t want to make room in my house for his shit, room in my schedule for his plans, or room on the dvr for his boring, not-funny dude shows. after a thoroughly honest appraisal, i can say pretty firmly that i’m not the marrying type.

you’d think that knowing all this would give me immunity to such a superficial display of coupledom as a gnome with a heart on a chain, because frankly, who even wants that tacky shit? but somehow i cannot stand against the onslaught entirely unmoved. as i sat on the bus on my way home i wondered what the hell was wrong with me? surely something pretty deeply profound and sinister. definitely something shameful and that should be remedied immediately. i buckled in the face of the mighty machinery that brings us sports illustrated’s bathing suit issue, $60,000 bridal gowns and the diet industry. when i got home i went directly to my laptop and reopened my OKCupid account. it had been dormant for close to a year and i remembered feeling relieved, no…liberated the day i closed it down. ‘whew!’ i had thought. ‘no more of that crazy, annoying shit.’ but here i was uploading a new picture and thinking that this time would be different. this time men who don’t look 75, or say things on their profiles like “in my house we serve the lord” will write me. there won’t be random 17-year-olds posing as “french physicists” asking how big my boobs are.

the delusion lasted about 3 minutes.

once my old account was reopened i went back into the inbox and read a few of the messages that i hadn’t bothered to delete. i have absolutely not one ounce of interest in any of these people, i realized. it’s not really about them, they seemed mostly alright if moderately unappealing, but the reality is that the very last thing on my “can’t wait to do” list is go meet a stranger in a coffee shop and hear about his daughter-in-law’s recent birthday bar-b-que. that sounds bitingly bitchy i know, but it’s the truth. the best thing a person can do is accept herself. in doing so i find there’s no need to impose my bitchiness on some perfectly nice guy who’s just lookin’ for some booty and a hand to hold in the dark. nobody has to feel bad, we just go our own way. it’s nice to know who you really are actually, even if you’re not gandhi. maybe especially if you’re not. it saves a lot of confusion later.

the problem is that now i’ve done it. once you re-activate your okc account you can’t un-activate it again for at least a week. i’ve got two new email messages, one of which seems to be from someone who contacted me last time i was on a year ago. he sent me a message that appears to pick up the conversation where it was left off, but don’t ask me what he’s talking about. pirate kat radio station? what? also, he lives in placerville, a 4 hour drive from san francisco.

whiskey-tango-foxtrot bitches.

seriously, what am i doing here?

fucking valentine’s day.

2012 Year-End Top-Ten World-Champion-San-Francisco-Giants-Ranked-By-Hotness List

It’s the time of year when all the self-annointed experts inundate the blogosphere with their proclamations about the best or worst moments of the year. While some of them seem pretty entertaining and well informed they can also become pretty arcane and ridiculous. Seriously, who cares about the Top-Ten Leaders for Wins Above Replacement??  WTF does that even mean??  ACH, nevermind…let the baseball nerd-boys count the number of times Ryan Braun struck-out after picking his nose in the dugout, we of the Ladies Auxiliary Baseball Society, San Francisco Chapter, have bigger fish to fry and I daresay our expertise can scarcely be challenged.

When it comes to truly appreciating the spectacle of modern sports I have always considered myself a woman who “sees the whole field” so to speak. There is the game itself — how it is played and what its particular beauty is; there’s also a historical perspective — what are some of the sport’s great moments and how do our modern warriors measure up? And then there is the raw fact of sweaty dudes with big forearms and tight pants. In the “three-legged stool” school of philosophy it seems a perfectly legitimate subject for analysis to me.

Now…before you all get your panties in a bunch and try to blind me by spraying AquaNet in my eyes because I left your guy out, let me tell you: this was actually harder to do than I thought it would be. In that crazy way of which maybe only sports is capable I find that I really love these guys…all of them.  It’s fan-love of course, but I actually felt bad leaving Panda off (whom my friend Trish, who doesn’t know a baseball from a Pentacostal minister, would jump out of a speeding car to ‘climb aboard’) or even someone like Hunter Pence, as they each in his way has his hotness. But in narrowing it down to only ten I found that I had to make some tough choices. Now I know how Bruce Bochy must feel facing that blank line-up card every day.  Uneasy lies the bobble-head that wears the World Series crown.

10.  Brian Wilson

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Brian didn’t get a lot of traction around these parts in 2012 because of his arm injury, but it’s not like we would ever totally forget about him. While I personally, am over that super-jumbo vibrating merkin on his face, I can’t say he isn’t still swoon-worthy…especially half-naked.

9. Ryan Vogelsong

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It’s the flared nostrils that do it, I think. He’s like a raging, snorting bull-rhino, barely containing himself from spearing some candy-ass, ‘bout to strike-out loser from the mound, all intensity and determination and “I-will-fucking-eat-you-for-breakfast-motherfucker!”  So for Vogey, it’s more than just looks, though he is handsome, but it’s the sense I get that he could rip your clothes off with his teeth all while you sort of helplessly giggle and wiggle around on the floor like bit of warm linguine.

8. Brandon Crawford

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He’s much too pretty to leave off the list but frankly a bit too perfect looking for my taste. Even his tousled golden locks and scruffy beard are uber Hollywood. This is not to say I’d throw him back if I found him on the end of my stick, but I’m just sayin — full-disclosure, journalistic integrity and all — if you like this sort of thing, here he is: your starting shortstop, # 35, Adonis. I’m not saying I don’t like it, it’s just that perfection pisses me off (unless Matt Cain’s pitching). Anyway, hotness is hotness. I don’t make the news, I just report it.

7. Barry Zito

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I have always had a secret crush on Barry Zito. He’s a great looking Italian boy (as my mother would say) and it’s just in my blood or something. He’s got perfect teeth and a beautiful Mediterranean complexion and soulful eyes. I’ll admit that it was a secret because every time he pitched I wanted to find out where he lived and shit-bomb his house. It was a complex mixture of attraction and repulsion that he, thank you sweet fancy Moses, finally reconciled for us once and for all this season. I couldn’t possibly be happier for the guy, steppin’ up like he did all season for us. It’s easy to forget, after all his post-season heroics, that he actually got us our FIRST win of the season too, after a particularly inauspicious beginning for our first 3 starters. But he really won my heart in that Showtime series, whatever it was called, where he is shown as the veteran at the far end of his career arc, trying to stay relevant in a clubhouse filled with young bucks. He spoke, rather unselfconsciously, about just being a guy trying to live his dream (albeit from behind the wheel of a Porsche). His sincerity and vulnerability was palpable and it kinda broke my heart. #BarryFuckingZito.

6. Sergio Romo

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(check out panda’s photobomb!)

There are simply not better dimples in professional sports, period. That fact combined with the pink backpack, puppy-dog enthusiastic adorableness and sheer, unadulterated joyfulness make Sergio Romo an easy pick for “best boyfriend material” (though I understand there is an ex-wife out there somewhere who might have some thoughts on the subject…but, you know, fuck her.) Girls love to laugh and a man who can accomplish that consistently can pretty much have whatever he wants…as long as it’s wholesome and you wouldn’t mind it being shown on YouTube…um…or NOT!!!

5. Marco Scutaro

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I know I’m only placing him at #5, but this could be my favorite pick of the whole top ten if only because prior to July I thought he played for Arizona instead of Colorado (I’m still not sure I could differentiate them on a map, but don’t judge me. I know lots of big words) and would’ve pronounced his name scuTARo. He’s like ‘the man who fell to earth’, and though I’m not a fan of surprises, this kind I can live with. My friend Armando said this (although completely devoid of the appropriate lustiness required): He looks like a Roman Centurion. Without a doubt, Scooty would be natural in a toga and leather sandals, walking amongst the citizenry of ancient Rome, parting the throng, red-caped & helmeted through the bustling town square…hmmm…uh…so yea…where was I? Oh, right…so, the thing that really elevates all these guys into to the top-ten besides their physical beauty, subjective though that might be, is something I think of as “the Sexiness of Competence”. Dude. Gets. Shit. Done. Cute and useless are a dime-a-dozen, but a man you can count on is as mythical a beast as Pegasus; a rare and beautiful creature indeed. Scooty delivers like Dominos. Plus he’s got that cleft chin that I’d just like to gnaw on.

4. Andres Torres

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He wasn’t a Giant in 2012 but he was in 2011 and will be again in 2013. This year was like a freakish tear in the time-space continuum that he and his impossible cheek-bones fell through. Is it my fault that Brian Sabean sent our beloved Andres to spend 8 months in a friggin’ wormhole? But when I consider who we got in exchange (hello, Angel Pagan?) and that now we actually get Andres back? Well, it just may be the most brilliant bit of razzle-dazzle from our GM yet, at least from a hotness perspective. He scores pretty low on the SofC scale (see Scutaro, previous), actually comes in at, um, let’s see…exactly ZERO. Still, by virtue of pure physical bounty he can get a hall pass from me anytime and he slides into my top-ten like he’s stealing 2nd with a big lead on a wild pitch.

3. Gregor Blanco

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By now you can probably tell that there’s more to this hotness game than nice thighs, at least the way I play it. Of course a good set of gams’ll get you pretty far in my world, but there’s also the SofC scale, attested lack of douchebagginess, articulateness/intelligence (the definitions of which are stretched to their limits. I mean, they are jocks) as well as all the usual intangibles: heart, humility, classiness, soulfulness, moxie, etc… . Which brings us to Hot Giant #3, a sweet, under-dog of a guy who has all of the above. When he told Matt Cain “I did it for you” after making that Perfect Game saving catch, that was it for me, I was completely smitten. I will probably cry a little when they present this guy with his World Series ring. When good fortune smiles on an unassuming, unselfish worker-bee like Blanco I find it hard to be jaded and bitter (then of course the world creeps back in eventually, but it’s a nice pink cloud while it lasts). There’s a shot of Romo, after the 3rd strike on Cabrera to win the World Series where he’s doing his Gangham Style dance on the mound, and drifting in from the left of the screen is Blanco, sort of softly fuzzy in the distance with his arms open to the heavens as they all became World Series Champions…a sort of benediction to close out a magical season. It’s one of my favorite images of the whole year. LOVE. THIS. GUY.

2.  Angel Pagan

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When Angel Pagan lost his hat making a diving catch in some highlight footage on MLB.com my first thought was ‘holy crap!’  My second was, ‘Who knew this guy was so insanely handsome?’ after watching the clip maybe ten times. Who knew? How about everybody? The commentary on my LABS post was mostly, “DUH. Where’ve you been?” So I was a little late to the gate but I got there, okay? This guy can stop a runaway train with those sultry eyes & that museum-quality bone structure. I’m sure he knows he’s drop-dead gorgeous but he has never seemed like a vain jerk even once in any interview I’ve ever read or heard.  It’d be impossible to imagine that he is (or any of these guys are) not, at least sometimes, infantile, self-centered assholes. They are just dudes, afterall. But central to their induction into my top-ten is a conspicuous lack of jerk-hood. It’s to his credit that he seems a likable, well-adjusted and humble guy, and though I suppose it could be an act, it seems pretty genuine to me. Through experience I’m not particularly proud to claim, I know a tool when I see one and I’ve seen a few. I don’t think he’s one, so he can stay on my top-ten ‘till someone calls the cops.

1. Tim Lincecum

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The thing that really defines Timmy for me is his specialness. He’s definitely adorable in his way and he appeals to my personal sensibilities; he’s unorthodox and unpredictable, has green eyes (like me, we of the 2%!), pale skin to contrast with that dark hair, gorgeous arms, and he’s kind of sweetly goofy.  But what truly draws my interest to him, why I think he’s the hottest thing on cleats, is that he’s one in a million…mesmerizing and impossible and sick, in the highest sense of the term, just really like no other. I was searching for pics for this post and I got totally sidetracked watching footage of his windup. I mean really, his body does that! He had a rough year and it was painful to watch him at times, but I always believed he’d figure it out. And when he mowed ‘em down in the post-season I was actually proud that he didn’t let himself, or us, down. He is still a gamer and a teammate and a stud and I, like a million other women and not too few men, just wanted to jump him and get some of that badass, triple-action, super-special freak sauce all over me. Big love to 55 every day.

So to all the guys who didn’t make the cut, I want the universe to somehow let you know that you’re all the effin’ BOMB. I mean, Buster Posey is MVP, but hot? Um…I dunno…too much, purity I guess. Life’s not fair Buster…scuff up that blemish-free mug of yours a little and we’ll talk. I did want to post two honorable mentions though they may stretch the boundaries of actual “hotness”.

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The first is Javier Lopez who is a perfectly respectable looking guy. But what catapults him onto this list is his facility with the English language and his awesome voice. Unlike almost every other pro-athlete you can name, when Javi is interviewed after a game, there is bound to be some real thought given to the content of his responses. He actually makes statements that are meaningful and offers insights that are interesting rather than the usual clichés. And he’s got a voice made for broadcasting. I knew a guy once who said that men are seduced by what they see and women by what they hear. Javier Lopez can leave me dirty voicemails any time he likes.

The second honorable mention is to former Giant Eli Whiteside. Outside of his earthy southern drawl which I find wonderfully distracting, he had the remarkably good impulse to punch Shane Victorino. That all by itself will put you in good stead in these parts.

‘Tard Boy

and while i’m on the subject [don’t question, just stay with me…] what’s with how freakishly retarded men are anyway?

this happened:

i was on SKOUT, a mobile dating app that’s essentially for hook-ups. not a lot of substance, more shoot-from-the-hip ‘what’re u up 2 now?’. not exactly what this grown-up is looking for, but it’s free and was fun for a minute. i did not meet one, single person in the flesh, although the promise of such a meeting was persistent & a little intoxicating as many of the exchanges were pretty hot out-of-the gate and i received some very interesting photos in lieu of proper introductions. i had offers for cyber frequently and though i always declined, i couldn’t help but imagine some virile young thing with his scruffy beard and cargo pants cut-off below the knee sitting in the dark with his phone in one hand while polishing his knob with the other. it always made me chuckle…dudes are hilarious animals. but then again, aren’t we all? i’m a little embarrassed to admit that i wouldn’t even begin to know what to say anyway: ooh baby, your cock is so…um…funny looking? yea, i’ll not be making any fortunes providing cyber sex, i’m too honest i guess.

so, this one guy contacted me, liked my pic, blah, blah, blah. (one of my favorite things about SKOUT is that NO ONE — except for the weirdos that are trying to get your private email address from you for what end i don’t know — fills out a profile. there’s none of this blushing ‘oh i don’t know what to write about myself…but the last 300 books i read were:…’ bullshit.) we texted back and forth late one night. he was nice looking and young; a couple of really nice photos, one most certainly an actor’s head shot. the exchange was silly, lighthearted, pleasant. it wasn’t long before it turned sexual however, and i spent the rest of the time explaining to him why i wasn’t going to give him my address and why, although his resume of unique gifts was impressive and titillating (i cannot tell a lie) he absolutely could not come over and give me a demonstration, but that i appreciated the offer. he sent me this:

if i’d been 20 again, i might have met him for a drink and whatever else. but young & stupid i’m not anymore, and frankly, sometimes i’m really bummed about it.

so, whatevs, we just ended the convo, no harm/no foul…kept it light, no weirdness, it was fine. left it at ‘ok well…can’t blame a guy for trying, hehehe. catcha later then, take care’. i wholeheartedly believed that was the end of that.

i heard from him again late the next night and was delighted. we had another few moments of what passes for conversation in this modern world: he asked me about work, my dog, i can’t remember, other stuff. i asked him about the project he’d told me about, his friend’s movie shoot, other stuff. it was nice…normal. there was some allusion to we should meet soon, when could we do that? i can’t recall what we decided. it was late and i was tired so he texted ‘sweet dreams’ and we signed off.

next night, late, heard from him again and the big push to get into my drawers WAS ON. i spent the entire time texting, to a stranger, some version of this:  i’m glad you’re a “giver”, that sounds fabulous, but i don’t even know you!

And then, in the midst of calmly and diplomatically trying to impress upon him the sentiment above in yet ANOTHER way, i got this text: Let’s just forget about all this.  I’m sorry to have wasted your time.  I’ve only messaged you when I’ve felt lonely. I’m just going to cut this off here.

i blinked a couple times and thought, WTF? is this like a little tantrum? or is he kidding? he was not.

when i think about how disappointed i was i realize that it was only because i had let myself get swept up in the outrageously naive fantasy that this guy was somehow NOT retarded. i HATE when i know better but don’t pay attention to this wisdom. i never should have even entertained the notion that this young man, from an online hook-up site, could conceivably NOT be a scoundrel. that’s what really got me, that i let him blindside me and after having brought so little effort to the affair…3 nights worth of texts?? holy crap…all i could do was shake my head at my silly-ass self.

there was some sputtering back and forth before the last breath was finally squeezed out of this thing and i was the one there in the dark staring at my phone (hands NOT down the front of my pants, however).

fortunately the cynicism runs deep and strong through these veins, like the Mighty Colorado through the Grand Canyon, and i found myself just laughing at the absurdity of it all:  the arc of an ENTIRE relationship in 3 days worth of texts — discovery, curiosity, affection, then slam! OVER. never mind romeo & juliet, who touched fingers through a gate or something, this guy and i were never in the same zip code…it was insanely pitiful and hilarious. aahh, the modern world.

unfortunately, i was caught so off-guard by this turn of events that i was unable to articulate much of anything other than ‘what the hell just happened?’ which really pisses me off. not even a lame ‘go fuck urself u big, dumb baby’ which would at least have been somewhat satisfactory if not particularly sharp. not horribly fast on my feet, i’m afraid. i suffer terribly from the dreaded 5 Minutes Too Late syndrome. GAH!

if i had had my drothers (and exactly what IS a drother, anyway? or is it/are they always plural?) i would like to have made the following points:

Dear ‘Tard Boy,

Be gone with you then. really. who needs your silly drama? OY…what a BORE!

BUT, for your own sake, as you slink off to abuse yourself in a dark corner of your house (careful not to disturb the roommates, who are almost CERTAINLY having sex because EVERYBODY is except for you), accept a few pieces of wisdom from someone who has been paying very close attention to the world for longer than you’ve known what do do with a hard dick.

FIRST: OF COURSE you are lonely.  it’s what prompted you to sign up for SKOUT in the first place. you uploaded pictures and thought of a clever little moniker for yourself — a pun even, right? you mentioned that in one of our convos; a fan of word-play you are. a sign of intelligence i think i commented. maybe there’s hope for you after all, but intelligence is often wasted. anyway, you then sent messages to strangers in the hopes of meeting one to alleviate your mutual loneliness. HELLO? this is news to you? it’s what we’re all doing on SKOUT, einstein…what did you think? we’re all busy banging our co-workers, neighbors and the UPS guy BUT, hoping to fill the very few slots available on our packed calendars we resort to plucking strangers off the interwebs? it’s the human condition, blockhead…relax! no need to get your bath towel all knotted up in your cajones about it. with just a little more effort you might have found what you were looking for. which leads me to my next point…

IT’S A PROCESS. it takes time.

ALONEness can be immediately addressed by the physical presence of even one person. this, by definition, nullifies ALONEness. it is temporary of course, unless you’re planning to lock this person in your basement, but it’ll do the trick for the time being. 

but LONELINESS…now that’s another story. that is an emptiness that is only mitigated by CONNECTING with people in a real way and over time. it involves sharing & honesty & vulnerability.  you can’t accomplish it in one moment, no matter how intense or seemingly intimate that moment is. it’s not the activity that alleviates the loneliness, it’s the connection.

so my handsome but oh-so-stupid young friend, you are destined to be in the cul-de-sac of your own lameness until you figure out that fucking is not really what your heart wants. it’s fun and great and worth doing whenever possible, don’t get me wrong, however, it will always leave you empty if you think it’s about addressing your loneliness. but it’s your psycho-drama pal…good luck. vaya con dios.

The Vestibule

As described by Dante in the Divine Comedy, the Second Circle has to do with Lust and the punishment for it is…are you sitting down? Wait for it…eternally bad weather. So for all your (and my) wantonness we get to go live in Seattle. I know…whew, right? it’s like ‘Sinning LITE’ which seems strange coming out of 14th century Italy, but you take your breaks where you can get them, eh? But there’s just one thing: I’m here to break the bad news. In actuality it is something so much worse than that…more in line with Chinese Water Torture. It is intractable frustration, baffling incoherence coupled with innumerable mistimed miscommunications and crimes of syntax, all willingly engaged in for the purpose of a brush with the mythical serpent out at the far edge of hell’s vestibule: a “relationship”, or at the very least the possibility of getting laid. Forget about the torturous, ceaseless heat, the despair, the snakes and the low sodium baked potato chips, my life in online dating is an exercise in futility, frustration and confusion that makes a girl long to have her eyes pecked out by vultures.

It doesn’t seem like it should be so difficult really, and in the grand tradition of comparing my insides to other people’s outsides it seems obvious that I am doing something terribly wrong. My friends Rick & Rosy (Rick was my friend first, Rosy eventually came as a part of the set) met online…eHarmony i think it was. I had the 45 when i was a youngster: Natalie Cole singing (This Will Be An) Everlasting Love — a pretty irresistible song, very upbeat. I thought about giving the little piece of vinyl to R & R as a wedding gift, maybe making a clock out of it or something, but then it occurred to me that if broken properly it’d probably cut into my wrists fairly easily, especially while sitting in a full bathtub. Maybe better to hang onto it, i thought. And buy some Comet for the tub.

I’ve tried the big three:  Match.com, eHarmony & now OKCupid. OKC is actually totally great, not because the dates are any better, but because it’s free. Every time some big, dopey, middle-aged guy in a baggy, beige golf shirt sends me an email I can think to myself, ‘hey, at least i’m not PAYING for this crap’. Honestly, if I get one more *wink* from somebody and find on his profile the sentence: “I don’t know what to write in these things”, even ONCE, much less over and over again, i’m hurling my laptop at the first mini-van that passes me on the street.

Dear Guy,

Faded Khaki does nothing for your completion and the shoulder seams are supposed to be up on your shoulders, just fyi. As for your riveting profile…extend a little effort why don’t you? What are you doing on here if you’ve nothing to say for yourself? You’re projecting a telepathic image of your magnetic presence through the computer screen with the force of your desperation? How’s a girl supposed to know if she wants to sit across a table from you for an hour and have a meal? Is your profile pic of George Clooney eating a bacon-cheeseburger? What the hell are you thinking? Read your profile…would YOU want to go out with you? 

I better warn you, SNARK lies ahead (& behind & below & within…) and I refuse to apologize for criticizing someone’s fashion or hygienic choices. It’s NOT superficial to expect someone to present himself like he thinks he might still rock, even after having arrived at middle-age. It shows that he is still engaged enough with the world that he can make a choice for himself that’s not based on some past idea of what he used to like or what worked for him when he was 20. It shows a desire to keep up with culture as it moves and evolves. It’s like updating your software, if you don’t do it, pretty soon you can’t send an email. This is NOT about receding hairlines or expanding waistlines or saggy body parts, those are all a fact of life and not in the least indicative of the cluelessness that oversized tshirts with local business “sponsors” all over them or white tube socks with dress loafers are. I extend the effort and so should you. We do still ROCK, just not in teeny, weeny mini-skirts like we used to.

In the beginning of the Divine Comedy, Dante meets a She-Wolf on the hillside outside of the underworld who will rip him a new one just because she can. My kinda gal…here’s a short excerpt from some notes I found on the interwebs:

Dante tells Virgil about the beasts that blocked his path. Virgil replies that the she-wolf kills all who approach her but that, someday, a magnificent hound will come to chase the she-wolf back to Hell, where she originated. He adds that the she-wolf’s presence necessitates the use of a different path to ascend the hill; he offers to serve as Dante’s guide. He warns Dante, however, that before they can climb the hill they must first pass through the place of eternal punishment (Hell) and then a place of lesser punishment (Purgatory); only then can they reach God’s city (Heaven). Encouraged by Virgil’s assurances, Dante sets forth with his guide.

Just a badass babe waiting for her magnificent hound…yep, that’s me. There’ll be no suffering fools lightly around this place…keep a tidy vestibule, do I…just warning you. And my friends were worried that all I’d do is cuss up a shit-storm…HA! See Trish…it’s the DIVINE FUCKING COMEDY! Here I go, into the teeth of my eternal punishment.

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